Practice run on ingredients for next Friday’s Paella Evening. We are using the Rolls Royce of Paella Rice – “Bomba” Bomba rice is twice as expense as any other Paella rice, but it does have amazing qualities – it can absorb up to three times it’s own weight in stock. Most rices absorb about 2 times.. We also used grade “A” Spanish Saffron in this test dish with free range chicken and organic pork loin. The taste is amazing – better than I though. Next Friday we will scale this dish up to our 80cm Paella pan – which is a maximum of 35 very generous main courses so you’ll have to book early.
Getting great feedback on yesterdays “Monster Burger” night. Big thanks to Dan for fab photo of burger just seconds before he attempted to eat the entire edifice – and failed. For those who missed out, we will be doing this again in August.
And a quick reminder. The 1/2 pound beef patty is hand ground from Skirt, Brisket and Chuck with nothing added. We make our own milk and butter buns. The bacon is air dried and nitrate free; the cheeses are mature cheddar and American and we make our own special burger sauce – served with a side of home made coleslaw
Started making the buns for tomorrows “Monster Burger” evening in Limpsfield. This is a milk and butter bun – which has the strength to hold our freshly minced 1/2 pound piece of ground beef (Skirt, Brisket, Chuck) – along with the cheddar cheese and bacon.
We spent two years trying to find a commercial burger bun that didn’t fall apart under the dual assault of moisture and heat. In the end we had to make our own. By adding full cream milk and butter to the recipe, the bun is crispier and stronger.
Prepping for a seafood starter for BBQ lunch tomorrow. Can’t wait for char grilled squid, octopus and green prawn salad. I braised a whole raw octopus in a stock of onion, carrot, bay leaf, Lemons and salt. It goes into the pot looking like an alien and comes out 1 and a half hours later blushing and tender – and ready to go into a bath of olive oil, garlic and fresh chilli, which it soaks up to stay tender and moist. Tomorrow for lunch it will hit a super-hot char grill for intense flavour.
Always a great time of the year in the countryside as the fields erupt with wild garlic leaves. You can pick in most places during your daily exercise. Makes an amazing pesto and I mean amazing – a much stronger garlicky flavour mixed with pecorino, pine nuts and olive oil. You just blend the leaves with all of the above. We used it to dress Salmon last night…. A revelation.
The Deli Truck has just received a five star rating after its last health and safety check from the Sevenoaks council. Inspections have been getting tougher and tougher over the last couple of years as councils around the country are cracking down on unscrupulous, badly trained and dangerous food outlets.
We are delighted that the local council recognises the hard work, time and dedication the Deli Truck takes – making sure that it gets its food to its guests as fresh as possible while maintaining high standards of personal hygiene with spotless kitchens and appliances.
Yep it’s that time of the year again when members of the HOG (Harley Owners Group) make the pilgrimage to the Westerham Brewery in Kent to taste award winning beer and eat award winning food from the Deli Truck. We will be serving the HOG’s and any one else who wants to come along steaming rolls of Italian Porchetta with sautéed Rosemary potatoes. You don’t have to have a bike to attend and of course your more than welcome at the Deli Truck for a meal and a chat. The day gets underway at midday on the 15th of April and we will continue to serve our Porchetta until 4.00 pm.
There will be some fantastic bikes on show and you can taste award winning Westerham Brewery Beer, tour their brand new brewing complex, have a bite at the Deli Truck and look at some fabo bikes – Does it get any better than that? Not in this universe… We really look forward to seeing you.
Our Porchetta is cooked Old Style – using the complete Loin and Belly of Pork wrapped around fresh Italian herbs, pine nuts and sundried Tomatoes. We are pretty certain that we are only one of 3 Porchetta cooks in the UK who use the entire side of the pig as it should be done. Many other providers just use the belly of pork because it’s so much cheaper. On the Deli Truck we use the much more expensive loin and belly in one large roll, which makes the entire slice less fatty, but it also makes it more meaty.. it really is fantastic. And we source our Pork locally either directly from the farmer at Danemore Farm near Tunbridge Wells or though the famous butcher to the stars, Batchelors the Butchers in Sevenoaks.
A great hit this winter has been our bubbling cauldron of hot chocolate. We were first asked to make hot chocolate for a Bonfire night party in London. And in true Deli Truck style we researched and tasted and researched some more to make the most extraordinary Hot Chocolate you could imagine. We used a mixture of 70 percent coco solids chocolate and milk chocolate from Lindt. You could stand your spoon up in this one. We have since been asked to make this for another 5 parties during the winter.
This is not really a story about the Deli Truck, but what follows was such a wonderful foodie experience I have to share this with all and sundry.
We all know that ageing beef is what brings out the flavour and the quality of the meat. We also know that the only form of ageing is dry ageing – hanging in a temperature and humidity controlled cool room for up to 60 or even 100 days, with cool drying air circulating around a large prime cut of beef. Wet ageing in a tough plastic bag, with the air pumped out, is quite simply a revolting way to “age” beef as it has no contact with the air and so relies on anaerobic bacteria to tenderise the meat, which at times, can taste sour and watery.
But very few butchers dry age these days because during this very slow process, the cut of beef looses up to 20 percent of its weight as water evaporates away. This is what makes it more flavoursome and deeply red-brown in colour. Of course the water that evaporates, as far as a butcher is concerned is profit evaporating as well, as the weight of the cut decreases. This is the reason so many butchers will not dry age.
But on the few occasions that I have eaten properly air dried aged beef (I like it at about 40 days) it is a true revelation. The raw meat actually smells sweet, the all important fat is white but translucent and the entire cut has a wonderful nutty cheesy flavour and the good bacteria has done its job and slowly broken down the connective tissue and produced a super tender very very tasty steak.
The next thing that happened is that a few steak houses in the USA (notably David Burke’s Prime House in Chicago) started ageing their beef in cold rooms with a wall of Himalayan salt bricks stacked to the ceiling. This had a couple of profound effects on the beef – firstly the salty air being circulated around the large fridges has a slight anti-bacterial effect which means the beef can be aged for a longer time and secondly the salt produced a stronger drying effect and bizarrely a sweeter piece of meat. Recently a small number of UK meat producers have decided to salt dry as well.
So onto my special beef day – Late last week my foodie wife came home from a pre-Christmas visit to Fortnum and Mason with a 1 bone prime rib cut of beef from shorthorn cattle, off the Glenarm Estate in Northern Ireland. But here’s the revelation, the Glenarm Estate has started to age its beef with Himalayan salt bricks. This is not just sophistry – salt ageing really works. The beef smelt sweet and fresh with a slight mushroomy cheesy nose. The meat was dark and the fat translucent.
It was such a special piece of meat that I didn’t want to mess it up by overcooking, so I seared on top of the stove on all sides then put the pan in the oven at 180 for about 8 minutes. I put a temperature probe into the meat and pulled it from the oven when the core temperature reached 50 degrees. With a normal, supermarket, wet-aged, flaccid bright red steak this would be too rare – but in this piece of meat (after a 20 minute rest) this proved spot on. The ageing process had, to my eyes, part cooked the beef already. This was a wonderful special treat and a truly exceptional piece of beef. Well worth the trip to Fortnums to track down.
It’s also very expensive – this piece cost close to £30 pounds – but like all good things, you dont have to have it every day. I would gladly cut my red meat intake down to 5 or 6 times a year (instead of twice a week) so I could afford the best – and this is it.
NOTE: if you are well versed in cooking steak and use the finger prodding method to feel how it is done – you may have to change your methodology with meat like this. I found with this cut that the meat had lost so much water due to the ageing process that when prodded it felt very firm at all stages of cooking. So when it was very rare (checked with temperature probe) it felt almost well done. Something to be aware of….
NOTE: Always ask your butcher if his meat has been dry aged or wet aged in a bag (called the cryovac method) if it has been wet aged don’t buy it, but kindly ask if he can get dry aged beef. The more people that ask the more opportunity we have for getting better quality meat.